It wasn’t exactly home sweet home for the Fort Osage girls and boys track teams, but it was close.
Because Fort Osage High School is constructing a new athletic complex, complete with its first turf field and eight-lane track, track coaches J.D. Snead and Eric Holmes could not host the annual Fort Osage Invitational this spring.
“I knew what was going on at Fort Osage, and it’s always such a great meet so I called J.D.,” said Blue Springs South boys track coach Troy Harding, who went to Central Missouri State University (now UCM) with Snead when they were fellow decathletes, “and offered him our place.
“I know it’s not like hosting a meet on your home track, but we wanted to give them the opportunity to continue the meet.”
The thankful Indians coaches said yes and Snead’s girls won the event Wednesday afternoon at Larry Stewart Memorial Stadium by outscoring the Jaguars 104-97.
Harding’s boys team topped Holmes’ squad 120-81.
“It’s great that South offered to host our meet,” Snead said. “We can’t thank them enough. Our seniors don’t have a home track this year and this gives them a little sense of hosting our meet, even though we hosted it here at South.
“I am so proud of our girls. Emari Grimes remained undefeated in the 100 and 200 (meters), we had some other first-place finishes, did well in the field events and had a lot of seconds and thirds. That’s how you win a meet like this.”
Joining Grimes in the winner’s circle were Hailey Alvis, 800; Dymon Preyor, long jump; Ardaysia Fenner, triple jump and high jump; Shonyea Lind, shot put; and the 4x100 relay team.
“It feels good to host this meet, even though we’re hosting it at South,” said Grimes, who always looks to the stands to see her mother shouting encouragement at the end of each race. “It was windy, that’s for sure. But this is the nicest weather we’ve had this season. I thought we’d come over and do well, and we did.”
When asked if her undefeated season has attracted newfound attention, she just grinned.
“It’s funny you’d ask that,” Grimes said. “I was down at the jumping area and some of my teammates came up and said, ‘Those girls are talking about you. How they want to beat you, how good you are.’ I’m like, ‘Really? I don’t even know those girls.’ But I’m happy I ran well if people are paying that kind of attention to me.”
It was a big day for Blue Springs South’s Emma Bassford, who won the 1,600 meters and tied teammate Amaya Hernandez in the 3,200.
“With electronic scoring, they tied down to the 100th percentile (13.05.93),” Harding said. “I’ve never seen that.”
Bassford, who signed a letter of intent to run track and cross country at the University of Central Missouri earlier in the day, was thrilled with her performance and the team’s success, minus star distance runners Tori Findley and Danielle Hotalling (who were held out of the meet so they could compete at tonight’s Gary Parker Invitational at Blue Springs High School).
“Honestly, I feel really, really good about doing so well at this meet because it’s our home track, even though Fort Osage is hosting it,” Bassford said. “I love this school. It’s been my second home the last four years and I wanted to do well tonight and it was so exciting to do so well with Amaya.”
When asked about her first win this season, with Findley and Hotalling on the sidelines, she just grinned.
“We all love Tori and Danielle, they’re the best and we love watching them run,” Bassford said, “but winning here, on our track, is a feeling I will never forget.”
South also won the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 relays and Isabella Hake won the pole vault.
“I’m so happy for our girls,” South girls track coach Ryan Unruh said. “Some girls got the opportunity to step into the spotlight and they really rose to the occasion.”
Fourth-place Raytown finished with 58 points and Van Horn totaled 21. The Falcons’ Dasiah Tatum won the discus.
D.J. Frost and his Blue Springs South boys teammates left Larry Stewart Memorial Stadium with big smiles and plenty of hardware.
Frost, a standout football and basketball player at South, won the javelin and was on the winning 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams to play a big role in the Jaguars’ victory.
“Fort Osage brings a great group over here and Van Horn and Raytown have some great athletes,” Frost said, “so it’s great to win this meet. It’s Fort’s meet, but it’s on our track so we were all talking all day about doing well on our home track and we were able to accomplish that. It’s a special feeling.”
The meet ended in thrilling fashion as Tre Barbee, who also won the 400, sprinted from the back of the pack to claim a close win (3:35.14 to 3:35.62) in the 4x400 relay at the finish line.
“Just wanted to help my team win,” Barbee said. “The 4x4 is such an exciting race, it ends the meet and gets everyone excited. Coming out of that last turn, I just had to give it my all to win.”
Including Harding, who cheered for his winning squad.
“There’s no event like the 4x4,” Harding said. “It ends the meet and often decides the meet.”
South’s Henry Bahr won the 800, Dillon Grover won the 1,600 and Zach Grover the 3,200.
“The wind was crazy coming down the stretch,” Zach Grover said, “but I just say, ‘Welcome to Missouri.’ Other than the wind, it was a great day for a big meet.”
Navon Currie won the 110 and 300 hurdles for the Jaguars.
“It’s a meet on our track, so we all wanted to do well,” said Currie, who tweaked his hip when he hit the last 300 hurdle. “I’m fine. I’ll put a little ice on it and be ready to go.”
Fort Osage’s Dominic Myers won the 200, Collin Camerlynck won the pole vault, Ky’Von Smith won the long jump and Trevor Skaggs won the triple jump.
Van Horn finished in third place with 45 points. Shaun Ross won the 100, Kenny Maluia won the discus and the 800 relay team earned a gold medal.
Raytown finished with 36 points.